changed; but the feelings formerly represented by one class have found their way into another. How do you account for this? The equality which existed among the French nobility has descended and exists now among all classes--the military spirit and the military manners of France have done the same-for the character of a nation will penetrate all its institu tions-will give its air and physiognomy to every form of government which that nation essays, and even to which the character of that nation seems opposed.*

But it is not only that we find the soldier's character stamped on the citizen; we also find the soldier prominent in the different pursuits of the city.

What man more known to succeed in that society where a certain air of gayety and gallantry captivates the woman, whose reign of coquetry is drawing to a close, and excites the admiration of the young men who are just beginning to be a-la-mode, than Col. ·?

A lively and agreeable countenance, over which an eye that flashes fire and a slight but dark moustache throws a martial air of energy and determination: that sort of wit which is always delivered a-propos, and which rather consists in having something on all occasions ready to say than in the precise excellence of what is said; a peculiar turn of phrase, which somehow or other gives you an idea, but an agreeable idea, of his profession; and a manner of speaking, soft but short, and full of a slight emphasis, which as he pronounces his words gives a value to them above their meaning these are the qualities, assisted by an im perturbable impudence and an excellent education, which have given to this hero of the drawing-room the notoriety he possesses. Magnificent, prodigal, studying effect in his expenses, and desirous to give to his premeditated follies the air of a careless extravagance -famous for the bills he owes for bonbons, and the money he has spent in canes--famous also for his in

* I say nothing of the army, and its spirit, and its discipline, since I hope, at a future time, to go more fully into that subject.

trigues behind the scenes of the "Français," in the foyers of the opera, and in the salons of the Faubourg St. Germain--perfect in the art of ripening one intrigue before he passes from the other, and deriving much of his pleasure from the pain he inflicts--ready to give offence, to take offence--great gambler, great duellist, and fortunate as both--this gentleman is the idol of a circle whose praise one courts at twenty, and despises ten years afterward.

Col. is another character, entirely different from the one I have just been describing; for he is the model of a soldier, such as we figure a soldier in the times of sensibility, chivalry, and parfait amour. Passionate, nervous, incapable of rest, he has had but two idols,--peril and the woman he loved. Has he no softer object to transport, torment, irritate, and occupy him? malheur à l'état !--he conspires. But do not imagine that his character changes in his new part; that he is less frank, less open; that he does not say all that he thinks, all that he does. Listen to him! he will tell you that the scheme is almost organized, that so many men are ready in such a province, that so many barrels of powder are concealed in such a cellar in Paris; that the day is fixed; that success is certain. He is so frank that he deceives every one. The police are disconcerted, they cannot believe in arrangements that are publicly talked of at Tortoni's; a shower of rain, a change of humour, or the sight of a pretty foot, deranges the plot, and the conspiracy sleeps for a while in the arms of a new mistress.

dreams of the noblest things, and as his physical force never yields before his desires, he imagines himself capable of carrying the state upon his shoulders, of restoring, destroying; his breast is a volcano of resolutions, of plans half organized, long meditated, and then in turn abandoned. But, if you told him. that he mistook restlessness for activity, discontent for ambition, a love of change for a love of liberty, and

the follies of a vague enthusiasm for the concentrated plans of genius, he would believe that you totally misunderstood his character, and rush with redoubled passion into some new absurdity, in order to prove that he deserved the title of " wise and great" which you refused to him.

This man is irritable, jealous, vain, and easily affronted: but if he knows you well, his anger soon ceases; for he is generous, tender, and desirous of communicating his emotions. His friends are few; these he loves passionately, and they are generally in a worse position than himself-perhaps because such are more likely to forgive the irregularities of his temper, and to worship the virtues he possesses; perhaps because he has a sort of instinctive adoration for poverty, which corresponds with the rudeness and at the same time awakens the kindness of his nature. With the rest of his sex he is boastful, overbearing, full of his own merits and exploits; always talking of the army, "the great army," for he despises sedentary pursuits, and deems that incapability of repose is an aptitude for action. With women his heart melts: he is all softness, delicacy, gentleness. If he speak with affection, the tears are in his eyes; if he love, his passion knows no bounds; his gallantry is romantic, ardent, respectful; his features are strong and coarse, his person uncouth and gigantic; but if Louis XIV. were alive, he would have no occasion to tell the ladies of his court"qu'il étoit le plus beau,-parcequ'il étoit le plus brave de son royaume." Plain, slovenly, savage, he has been listened to by the most spiritual and elegant women of his time; vain, disinterested, brave, and passionate to excess, he has in turn been deemed a hero when he boasted of his exploits, an adventurer when he refused to receive a fortune, a man full of ambition when he was only occupied by love. He seems an anachronism in his time: he represents a part of it.

Alike dissimilar from the two persons whose sketches

I have just been giving, General obtained and deserved a more solid reputation than either. His life was not formed on the scandalous memoirs of a Duc de Richelieu, nor would it afford an episode to the romance of Amadis in the desert. Gallant, courteous, endowed with equal firmness and reflection; the rigid observer of subordination in the camp, the warm defender of liberty in the tribune; sincere, independent, unaffected—uniting the somewhat brusque manner of Napoleon's soldier with the polished address that would have charmed the court of Louis XV.-in my recollections of General I almost see a military model for the rising generation of his country. When I knew this very remarkable person, fatigue, sickness, and meditation-the toils of war, and the changes of climate, had bronzed the fine, and delicate, and womanlike features of his youth, and rendered a countenance which was naturally effeminate, severe and stern.

General was acquainted with all subjects, and spoke well upon all; but his sentiments did not come from him with that easy flow, or with that passionate vehemence, which marks the man of imagination and enthusiasm: they were rather delivered in observations, separate and apart, observations remarkable for the tact with which they were turned, acute, elegant, and especially satiric. The great man of his time-legislator, warrior, statesman-he could not have been either of those men in whom these characters were most remarkably found conjoined. More vain and imperious than the simple Washington; more generous and patriotic than the selfish and ambitious Napoleon; more cold and more proud than the fanatical and deceitful Cromwell; he was too haughty to have sunk calmly into the private citizen of the republic, too just to have mounted the throne of the empire, too eloquent to have taken the mace from the table of a House of Commons. Fond of honour, he would have sacrificed it to liberty; fond of liberty, he might have sacrificed it to glory; the statesman, he would have been the soldier; but in the camp he would not have resigned the Chamber.

Fortunate in most things, Gen. was more especially fortunate in living at the moment most favourable to his genius, and in dying at the moment most susceptible to his loss.

These are characters taken from the society of France, and thus we see--now in the journalist with the sword in his hand- -now in the general delivering his speech-the same influence still predominating; and let it be so!

There are political truths equally applicable to all states arrived at a similar epoch of civilization; but they will vary in their application according to the history, the customs, the ideas they meet with among the people to whom they are applied. To these variations give a full and unlimited scope: it is the only method by which you can blend the ideas of the few with the habits of the many, and give the life which you derive from ancient customs to a new constitution.

Where the same species of government finds a new soil, a different genius presides over its foundations. Thus may we see two oaks, whose height and grandeur are nearly the same, lifting with equal majesty their heads to heaven, but their roots will all the while be taking a different course; for in nature and society there is a secret sympathy-and as the fibres of the tree will, if they meet a stone or a ditch, strike under it, in order to escape the obstacle or avoid the cold; so the interior course of institutions, regulated by obscure causes, is oftentimes shaped in darkness, and escaping your observation, defies your control.

France, then, may yet be able to blend a military spirit with a free constitution, and the sword which, appearing as an accident in England, banished the mace of civil authority from the House of Commons, seen here as a custom, may lie side by side with it in the Chamber of Deputies. This idea, as it seems to me, should be present to the monarch who governs the French; the people who have just mourned Lamarque

« VorigeDoorgaan »